San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors hosted a hearing this week on reparations, and the board was open to payments of up to $5 million to every eligible Black adult.
Per the Associated Press, the large lump sum payments was among the many suggestions during the hearing. Other recommendations made by the city’s board of supervisors included the elimination of all tax and personal debt burdens for eligible Black residents, homes in the city, and guaranteed annual incomes of approximately $97,000 for families for the next 250 years. The Board of Supervisors voiced support for many of the ideas, which seek to address over hundreds of years of systemic racism and slavery.
“If you look at the [draft] report, you’ll see so many examples of how Black folks were done wrong here in San Francisco, and all of that can really be traced back to the negative effects of slavery, which traced back to negative policies across the country, San Francisco being no different,” said Supervisor Shamann Walton, who has been at the front of the city board's reparations plans since 2020, per The San Francisco Chronicle.
The San Francisco African American Reparations Advisory Committee’s draft proposal was also met by concern from some, including Board President Aaron Peskin who said payments of $5 million to those eligible isn’t feasible at the moment. Many Conservatives have panned the proposals. “Those of my constituents who lost their minds about this proposal, it’s not something we’re doing or we would do for other people,” said Supervisor Rafael Mandelman in response to the criticism. "It’s something we would do for our future, for everybody’s collective future.”
It’s not clear what, if any, of the reparations plans will be implemented or approved, but to be eligible recipients would have to be 18 or older and identified as Black or African American on public documents. Recipients would also have to have proved they were born in San Francisco between 1940 to 1996, or migrated to the city during the same period of time. Additionally, those who lived in the city for at least 13 years or were displaced due to urban renewal between ‘54 to ‘73 would also be eligible.
“It is not a matter of whether or not there is a case for reparations for Black people here in San Francisco—it is a matter of what reparations will and should look like,” Walton said. The committee has yet to reveal how many people might be eligible, and the financial feasibility was not addressed in the draft report. The city of San Francisco is approximately five percent Black, but they account for 38 percent of the homeless population according to 2022 city data.
“San Francisco has systematically prevented Black people from accumulating, sustaining or passing down wealth, and that has actively destroyed our ability to be able to build wealth within our communities,” said Tinisch Hollins, vice chair of the reparations committee. “Centuries of harm should be met with centuries of repair,” added committee chair Eric McDonnell. “This is not a one and done. We have collective work to do to put folks back on the right path.”